Love to Love War, Baby?

“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric … suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.

“…but apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion… Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

You know who’s not scared of widows and orphans? So little scared in fact that his entire presidency has the creation of more widows and orphans on his weekly agenda? Part and parcel of our tradition of compassion? Like quite too occasionally putting them out of their misery by preemptively striking their widow and orphan status.

It will be interesting to see if he responds to this letter from former drone operators:

We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.

“Is fundamental potent?” I can imagine WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest earnestly joshing. You know, this administration is not above joshing about drones. What? Should I be “over” this by now? (Read first, watch later.)

So President Bo Rama cannot imagine a more potent recruiting tool. Wouldn’t that be the imagination of a sociopath? I don’t wanna believe that he just refuses to imagine the more potent tool he’s been deploying for two terms, because that’d be the other pathology. Ted Bundy was a congenial fellow they say.


Speaking of another guy people quite apparently love to love (I’m promising myself to extinguish this pet peeve after this. (Again, maybe best to read first, click & watch later)):

The point of the segment was for Late Show host Stephen Colbert to demonstrate that displays of solidarity (with Paris) via social media are a perfectly appropriate way to show support on the one hand, and to deal with grief on the other.

I dunno if it’s the crowd roar when Colbert reaches the part where the Statue of Liberty gives ISIS the finger, or if it’s when he jokes about how France gave the US “half the continent at a bargain price. No take-backs, guys.”

Why, Stephen… don’t you mean Indian giving?

I find it all so fucking brain-dead, trying to explain why feels like an exercise in zombie bating.

He intros soberly, “I hope you had a good weekend but, given what’s going on in the world, that’s a tall order.” Regarding what happened in Paris, and as a New Yorker who “knows too well the horror” he says he’d like to offer Paris “the hope that there is a way through the unspeakable tragedy.”

I would maintain that the truly unspeakable tragedies are those that go unspoken. What do you think? Anyway, I’d be wary of someone reading me the instruction manual for the “way through” from the verse 9 chapter 11.

That so much of his tone sounds nearly indistinguishable from his earlier fake-persona — or at least a cadence eerily similar to that of his previous schtick — is creepy enough. But the ego-centrism of the colonial empire as victim enterprise should make one question whether or not the inhabitants of this bubble are capable of the awareness that there is a larger swath of victims between the lines drawn by the military, the terrorists, and the refugees that might be worthy of more serious consideration even than the other three. And they don’t necessarily live in Europe or America or even want to.

In a later segment, Stephen has a US military colonel (decorated, don’tcha know) on to do one of those oh-so serious, yet cracking wise, always in the service of lady liberty, interviews that is very nearly titled “Whadayagonnado!?”  (embedded at the end)

One cannot make the case that Colbert exercises a devil’s advocate role in the least. He basically assists in making the colonel’s case, which is a coalition of troops in the “several hundreds of thousands and for a long time… it’ll take a decade, two decades.”

Though I doubt most people think things this far through, I guess we’re envisioning a day where there’ll be bases all over the region in question, surrounded by the same kind of peace loving community the US has in other countries of wars past and whose worst offense to doe-eyed Americans will be giving their GIs venereal disease. The wholesome version has Elvis in an implied love triangle with a local girl who will also be doe-eyed. How progressive! You see, they’re not all terrorists.

Basically, occupying the world with brute force is the solution to the world. No chance at all that occupied children will continue to grow up with the ambition to kill the happy occupiers with their charmingly oblivious Facebook profiles.

In wondering where this coalition is to come from, the host helpfully suggests, “So many countries have been attacked by ISIS at this point.”

In the relatively lucid existence of my imagination, it would have been the  colonel leading the host, and the host would have retorted with a quip about how many countries & territories have been attacked by the US in the last year, decade, century — and maybe offered an estimate as to the number of dead. You know, in case one wonders where coalitions come from.

For their part, instead guest & host venture hand in hand down the road of the reasonable discussion of alternatives, or at least what passes for it on the network with an all-seeing eye pasted permanently in the lower right corner of the screen, like the signature of the artist.

Dabbling gently as devil’s advocate himself, the colonel paraphrases “an argument that says…stop trying to unseat bloodthirsty despots” as it relates to toppling regimes, but in the way that omits the specific detail that has long been the setting them up & knocking them down reality of foreign policy.

It’s at this point in the interview where it takes on a more obviously scripted quality. Certainly The Late Show has always tried to do pre-interviews. Keep in mind that this time of night used to include David Letterman moderating Stupid Human Tricks or dropping shit from the top of the Rockefeller Center, which, in retrospect, would show a broader range of world solidarity even if it ignored Reagan’s world exploits.

Anyway, Colbert responds, “Certainly we were in bed with a lot of blood thirsty despots for a while and then we got out of that business and, uhhm, overthrew Saddam Hussein. Would ISIS exist if Saddam was still in power?”

To this the colonel answers in the negative, giving the response that liberals love to love, even though almost all of their preferred politicians voted for that war, they hang it on the previous administration. Because Democrats don’t care about the ongoing problem as much as they cherish being able to blame it on Republicans.

The colonel goes on to say that ISIS want “you to die and they want to die themselves” to which Stephen asks, “So how do we give that to them?” Cheers from the audience, I daresay with a tad of blood thirst bravado. I think nary a soul thought that response through. If you do, you realize that, although Colbert meant “How do we kill them?” technically the question was about how to give ISIS the gift of all of us being dead. Probably the answer to the implied question better fits the unintended one.

Colonel’s conclusion: More war. “A quarter of a million of troops in Syria alone”. This is immediately concluded with superfluous comic relief about the hotel the colonel is staying in to the hearty laughter and applause from those who love to love this shit in spite of everything. And, my goodness, because of it. They probably went to sleep feeling smarter.

My take: If you’re on about how “we” need to take in refugees without just as passionately maintaining that “we” need to stop taking war to the rest of their world, I cannot take you seriously. “Either, or” does not work here. If you wanna be “we”, then you gotta own this shit. This includes not passing weapons out to everybody who serves some shady long- or short-term interest.

If you’re answer is, “But they will at best only allow us the one thing!” then it’s time to stop calling yourself “we” and distance yourself from they who would promote anything less. Don’t be a tool.

Look at it this way: If you intuit the worthiness of symbolic solidarity, don’t let anybody tell you it has something to do with the colors of their flag — this, the day before they redouble their bombing raids. Instead, find nice pictures of the actual victims and declare your sympathy with them.

Remember nine-eleven? Imagine the creative use of stars & bars if profile images had been a thing then. Just because France has been roundly mocked by Americans for “surrendering” to the Nazis does not mean that freedom, equality, and brotherhood have not been adept since the second world war at being partners in war crime with the other red, white, and blue. If all you’re aware of is their refusal to join the coalition of the willing, look into the rest of their twentieth century history. Don’t be a tool.

If you think that your guy or gal in office doesn’t have a choice, that certain shadowy powers have captured their every bloody move, then they owe it to you to say so. Explicitly. Otherwise I’m not buying it.

Colbert’s assertion that “we got out of that business” of bedding blood thirsty despots is a bald-faced lie, but it serves the brand’s narrative to hand-wring out half-truths. Call it truthiness. It is increasingly clear that CBS is paying Stephen Colbert to sit high up on the propagator of the lesser evil brand of the Project for the New American Century.

On that note, I conclude today’s Sunday Paper with Exhibit A:

No Enlightened under the Illuminated

You know what I think? I think that I sense that more people are beginning to sense the same things as I. Though “sense” and “think” are pedantically understood as state verbs, I think it’s not unwarranted “to McDonald” at least one of the words into the immediacy of the present continuous and say that I think that I am sensing a collective sensing.

But the thing is, no matter how relatively original my perspective might be, I’ve thought nothing without looking to see what other people are thinking, and the enhanced ability in the twenty-first century to access such information is so mediated that I wonder if it’s not vastly more inaccurate than even the most suspicious mind might assume. Thinking others sense this, as well, or are beginning to, amounts to a counter-circular kind of reasoning that seems beyond untangling.

Nevertheless, I do think that now as much as ever, people are sensing that their reactions to current events are being stage managed, even if the events themselves are not. I sense that they have just now begun to wonder who we are that we would deliver ourselves up to this system of mediation.

I think more people are skeptical of this massive mixture of language apt and language absurd as it relates to depictions of what we’re all supposed to be thinking and sense that others, like themselves, are finding absurd this or that public personality’s selective expression of sympathy or call for unity, because the public are sensing that there might be diverging interpretations of unity involved, and that the sudden and arbitrary appearance of sympathy strikes a discordant tone that’s impossible to harmonize and less easy to ignore.

I think people are uneasy more than they are afraid, in that they have suddenly found themselves reticent to state frankly what they are uneasy about. If pressed they could name a few things they are afraid of that would extend beyond the most immediate. I think now more than ever before, these would include names of those who give us the names of things we have to fear.

They say this is a game changer, which would legitimize the big red, block letters they use to pithily inform us of the relevant subject. But the real game changer is that more people are choosing not to join in on the reaction they are told they’re already a part of.

If not explicitly, people sense that the sudden outpouring of sympathy is not just inconsistent with the behavior of real sympathetic people, but obscene. That’s what I am sensing. At least that’s what I think.


When you hear a hand-wringing liberal voter hypocritically waffling re. the inconsistency of US policy vs. Saudi Arabia, they certainly are not expressing a preference that the US start bombing the entire peninsula in preparation for invasion.

There is no new geographically defined border that invites traditionally tenable warfare against an enemy that can be defeated. Sure, the Frenchies and her more powerfully equipped kin from NATO and Israel and even Iran or any other part-time accomplice could go all-in in Syr/rak, but they’d only still be fighting the murky enemy who is always & forever a covertly avocational ally. No matter how much the region were devastated, it wouldn’t stop shooters in theatres meant for a different kind of entertainment. On the contrary.

But they could give it a shot. Or, they could step off — and pre-empt the primary persuasion of the coming-of-age “islamist” and what would be a new generation even more deeply convinced of the necessity to take the fight to the rest of the evil world.

They have said that “we” gotta take them there so we don’t have to fight them here, and even if the new leaders don’t identify with the party that made the original statement, they continue its implication by continuing the fight. Now they would like to enable the presentation of Paris as evidence that this is true. Is anyone buying this shit? Cannot we see that taking them over there is what brings them over here, regardless how they arrive?

There is no question in my mind that Paris is casus belli for whatever machinations come next, including but not limited to grand displays of “diplomacy” to “forge regime change” in Syria, and that the primary beneficiaries are the corporate heads of state and their obscenely highly compensated clientele. I think that more and more people are beginning to sense this enough that they no longer believe the details of the stories they’re told, if they really believed them to begin with.

Unfortunately, tribal identities prevent some people from asking questions like how on earth regime change in Syria is likely to be any different from the one in Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Egypt. Or Iran. They’ll vote for the one of two or three candidates who seems more likely to subscribe to the congenial approach to bringing brand democracy to the middle east — even as all evidence points to that tactic’s being part of the continu-itous contrary — and they’ll breathe a self-congratulatory sigh of relief at having prevented the worse war, as if war is only declared in Paris on Friday the thirteenth and not Beirut on throwback Thursday the twelfth.

No matter how high on the pyramid they may rest, people of power cannot necessarily keep things under the kind of control that even they would like to think they can, and their threshold is a pretty chaotic already.

This, I think, is a large part of the unease people are increasingly sensing: That we are in a suicide pact with friendly overlords whose ruling decisions are determined by how we play along. Or don’t. I would like to think more people are sensing that.

But I could very well be another tiny tool at one of the many incomprehensibly far-flung margins of manufactured plausible consent.

Ode to Cronauer

Aquarius upon us, leases expiring tiny trade, all the staged is hominal hype. Bicycsuals mounting anything on two wheels couldn’t maintain the local boutique. The rent increase was just too much. Protection due the resident, a triennial cap of twenty percent, is more like pledged protection money. Still the modest bike doctor wasn’t afforded this shoddy respect. Sky’s the lid on the commercial plot.

Bon voyage, Herr Cronauer.

Reflections of a Wheeled Patient, Grünberger Str. 62, Berlin-Friedrichshain – 2015

Lark Approaching

Take it all in perspective, but most of all, take heart!
“Triumph” precedes this “tragedy” — Lo! no
Literal “inevitable” could possibly be
Bound with aspect of earthly capacity.

Yea! no joy we know for her’s forsaken.
If the clay beneath our feet ain’ shakin’.
We want things. That’s all. Let us not forget that
We have so much.

What little comfort shall I know within
This heartless mind that knows no end?
Can I make demands of the ones I love? Should I?
Or shall I give myself to another who needs me?

As depression ascends and winter approaches, a decisive shift
Happening round the annual theft of precious dawn
Stolen as so much to be invested in seemingly someone
Always else, leaving behind only an hour of darkness

A goddess she might be, but she’s one of us,
With pains and joys, she is no god.
Fifty words for what might come and go, if it does.
Between now and whenever what comes, if it doesn’t.

Take what you have. What you have need not be taken
From the hands of an other and it can be shared
Without limit. Be strong.
I’ll remind myself to be thinking of you.

You suck a pol, you suck a goal.

Surprisingly (from my perspective), the latest cold opening on Saturday Night Live was a pretty spot-on analysis of political reality. It exaggerated Hill’s apparent belief that her demonic traits are charming, painted Bern a little cranky, and foreshadowed the not unlikelihood that a party member would back the nominee and grovel for a cabinet position.

SNL‘s problem began long ago when they started allowing money’d candidates and sitting functionaries a platform to humanize themselves. From a blood-on-the-hands perspective, the coming ratcheted-up whining about Donald Trump hosting the show amounts to too little, too late.

The entire exercise takes on a whole new light given the participation of the politician. It has so many folds I don’t know where to begin unpacking it.

First and foremost, they do not get skewered on their most (w)retched policies. If this were the case, they wouldn’t be making cameos, let alone would a program that actually satirized politics and not just personality traits be wont to invite them.

Then, their version of soft-satire makes the targets “good sports” — better sports in proportion to how much they get “made fun of”. What a likable trait!

Another aspect is revealed regarding the Hill’s appearance the previous week to the aforementioned opening: What previously had been a pretty unflattering portrayal on the show in general (again, as far as the entitled attitude of her personality is concerned) became a “we’re all in on the joke” and gave the candidate an opportunity to admit in such a comfortable environment that she might have been late on marriage equality in a “but we’re all still friends here” way that doesn’t even come close to getting challenged. You see, she listens!

Also, we are not privy to the back & forth about what cannot be written in the sketch, though, as is probably the case, the writers are hardly vicious enough that the handlers need bother with a list of no-gos or pre-approval. Still.

Again, I admit that Kate McKinnon did a solid job continuing to paint an unflattering portrait in the cold open the following week, but at this point it cannot help but come off as all in good fun amongst friends.

So maybe SNL is just soft parody machine at best, but I firmly believe you cannot adequately lampoon a person when your target is invited to play along — either before or after such appearances when such has become the norm.

That every fucking candidate does every show is problematic. One might argue that reaching a larger public is a good thing, but it’s actually just taking the money-in-politics to another venue, and hence another level — as if they don’t have enough friendly exposure. And that access and exposure corresponds well to the larger media reality. Imagine how long Lincoln Chaffee’s cameo would be; it wouldn’t be the length of the sketch even if he were invited. Not that I’m saying he should be, only that it mirrors the biggest problem in a democracy, which, ironically, media have argued is an adequate defense of the balance of their coverage, when in fact, it’s only the content that could be justified on such grounds, not the absence that makes up the greater part of the format. This absence would be glaring to more people if they had a clue.

Take Benghazi. Please. It has come to amount to a trumped-up political witch-hunt conducted by the opposing party because journalists won’t do the job of scrutinizing the shit out of the former State Secretary and her President’s administration’s massacre of Libya, nor will they cover the overlapping oligarchical policy continuity between the parties while they’re so busy with both parties insisting there is nary but contention between them.

As far as the extent to which Saturday Night Live is gonna go in satirizing American politics, it probably didn’t take a memo from the corporation to result in as superficial a take from a comedy writing staff as you’d get from their counterpart in Putin’s Russia. If that’s an exaggeration on my part, it’d only be because, in America, we’re so free that we’re not afraid to caricature our politicians’ lack of charisma. Well whoop-de-do!

I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: Neither Jon Stewart nor Stephen Colbert have ever provided anything but a comfy chair for the big name politicians on their shows. It is clear from their demeanor during these interviews that they just will not bring themselves to cross a certain line of questioning. This is particularly disappointing considering the blistering the latter laid on Dubs the year he hosted the WH Correspondents’ Dinner. And that was on potentially unfriendly territory. But there’s the rub.

In an attempt to wrap up this unpacking: If you want access to the candidate, you give them a platform that benefits them. It’s better not to provide the platform, regardless of the anodyne ribbing you’ll give them the next night. It’s a net win for the pol, and a net loss for the tradition of satire. That Colbert and Stewart are seen as the cream of the crop of the American variety only makes it harder for me to stomach, because it doesn’t just set the high-bar lower, but establishes a problematic framework for what constitutes an informed public.

Anything could happen, but my prediction is Trump will garner the same screeching applause that every other celebrity politician has been getting. Whether that’s due to an applause sign is a secondary matter. Because we’re oh-so civil that way. And isn’t that what Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Insanity turned out to be all about? Yes it did! I learn waaay more from The Daily Show than I do from the regular news! Indeed.

Politicians do not belong on any show that even pretends to be satire. Even if it’s hip and newsy. Colbert’s Late Show‘s first guest after he had a different politician on every single night during his first couple of weeks? Oprah. What a cutting edge comedy program that turned out to be.

I don’t have a problem with my atheism.

It is when one’s understanding of atheism verges out into other areas of activity and uses the word with a capital fuckin’ A as a moniker along the way that I have an issue with. My atheism does not inform my convictions regarding social justice or civil rights or politics. As a matter of fact, my atheism came later than most of the development of my political thought, which, while it continues to evaluate new realities, does not look to atheism for an answer. On the contrary, the way Dick Dawkins has turned my non-belief into a pet celebrated cause has informed my thinking on these matters more than atheism itself, which is, in short, that religion and atheism are beside the main point.

Religious fundamentalists use their leaders’ interpretations of tenets from their books as an excuse to act, often with oppressive and sometimes terrifying consequences. There are those who admit that imperialist oppression fuels the latter, but insist that “the extremists will be extreme no matter what”.

I see it the other way around: The imperialists and their unwitting accomplices would fuel terrorism even if religious extremism were not a thing. Likewise, even if not for the fundamentalist Christian segment in the Americas, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, hatred toward “the other” would continue unabated. I have encountered a fair enough share of atheist misogynists, bigots, racists, and homophobes, for example.

I take the truth of the liberal trope that “they are using religion as an excuse” and place it likewise firmly on the shoulders of the “new atheists”. Much like liberals who forget this reality whenever it’s politically convenient, they are all caught up in red herrings and symptoms.

I realize that when we are faced with people of influence & authority using their religion as a source to dictate to us what we should & shouldn’t do, that we must respond. But I repudiate the promotion of atheist leaders or atheist spokespeople the same way I reject leaders in general. Except insofar as the attribute is incidental to the title — leader who happens to be atheist — the concept itself is nonsensical.

Maybe I am picking a nit, but I find that mixing terminology in that way is a slippery slope towards “authority”, seeks to spin a state of mind into a movement, and negates the meaning of atheism by turning it into theism of a material sort. That’s religion in a nutshell.


The Pope, John Wayne, and Hitler are getting on a bus. As the Pope attempts to pass the driver neither showing senior’s pass nor dropping coinage for the single fare, the driver holds him up with the tenor of the clearing of his throat and a, “Ticket, please.”

The Pope’s graceful smile betrays a hint of condescension. “I am the infallible Holy Pontiff, respected representative of well-over a billion Catholics around the globe. Anyway, I don’t have pockets,” comes the reply, and he blesses the driver with a sign of the cross and moves to the back of the bus, taking a seat.

He is followed by John Wayne, who likewise attempts to pass ignoring the driver who, as with the Pope, stalls the actor’s obliviousness by asking him to show his ticket or pay the fare.

John Wayne contemplates the confrontation with a shift from one foot to the other and then squares himself with the driver and boasts, “I am an iconic American hero, representative of the greatest generation as well symbol of the taming of the savage frontier. I don’t ask you to compensate me for my service and I sure as hell ain’t gonna pay for a ride.” He saunters to the back of the bus and takes a place just near enough the Pope to be able to sit with his legs spread wide apart.

Next comes Hitler.

[alternative addendum::]

The driver takes one look at the Führer and, annoyed, waves him past with a, “Oh, Jesus. Just go!”

The rhetorical moral of this tale is, if you can’t stop the Pope or John Wayne, how you gonna stop Hitler?


Happy Sunday, everybody!

Gun Control

When the US bombs a hospital, it’s the Taliban’s fault or at the Afghan coalition’s behest. But a guy running amok on American students is the fault of gun laws.

The sickness that leads to the latter above is characteristically evident in the way a discussion of the former unfolds and is subsequently shaped. Never never never would the American intentionally target a hospital as a military objective. Unless they had good reason, of course. Ideological returns on what that all means may vary. At worst a mistake with vaguely criminal implications.

Entirely ignored however is the fact that the stated objective as it relates to tactical regional command and the individual action thereunder and, not least which, the governmental legislation or lack thereof that dictates an entire policy is not homogeneous.

Anybody old enough to remember the stories told by returning vets from Viet Nam can testify to the divergence in stated policy and coordinated action. In this case, soldiers often complained that they were kept in a state of stalemate. This is instructive, as the objective from highest above was not to win a conflict, but to maintain it. Why? Weapons and heroin. There were longterm goals, but it takes more than military labor to fund them.

Gee, what could Afghanistan have in common with that? The amount of money generated from weaponry in any conflict zone is significant, but it’s usually only the cost to the taxpayer that’s discussed in the media. And the amount of money generated by the opium trade is likewise significant, but the US would never traffic in that, would they?

The longterm strategy is a pipeline of a different kind. This funds itself as long as other resources flow. Now, you might ask, why would the US under such circumstances deliberately target a hospital? Well, for one thing, when you as a country release your dogs for any military action, you cannot count on the logic of the warrior to maintain the philosophical code of fiction that defines the killing. Add to that the general stress of war over generations (in Afpak, 14 years and counting), then you lose even a semblance of the myth of decorum.

I’d like to say I don’t know why the American can be so blind to repeatedly obvious precedents regarding their intelligence service’s function as project manager of perpetual war profiteering, but I am all-too aware that otherwise intelligent people get buried in the patriotic paradigm after a mere few formative years, let alone a lifetime of conditioning.

You don’t have to be all-out jingoistic to represent the worldview and mindset of the nationalist. Even anti-war folks claim to be “for the troops” with little-to-no real idea what the implications of this attitude are. Homies always get the benefit of the doubt.

The war on terror is a ruse. Not that it doesn’t produce plenty of terror. The most brilliant thing about Cheney’s Iraq was that he in all likelihood knew that by falsely attributing “nine-eleven” to those purveyors of WMD (oh, the irony), that the ongoing action in Afghanistan (and everywhere else that would follow) would nary be questioned. Because we all just know that it was the Taliban’s harboring of OBL & his Al Ciadydids that made the whole thing happen. Nothing at all to do the the perpetrators who came out of the beheading capital of the world, staunch allies on the Arabian peninsula.

Why is it that Americans continue to pick which “intelligence” they believe and which “intelligence” is manufactured? Not one person prattling on about Sunni & Shia in Iran, Iraq, and Syria has a friggin’ clue about the veracity of any “intelligence”. Not by the longest of shots.

I can’t imagine why a nation waging war in hundreds of countries, killing by a conservative estimate two million people over a decade-and-a-half during which both allowable parties have enjoyed majorities and multiple terms would be a land where people occasionally shoot each other.

If one were to take an entirely objective and dispassionately logical view of the world as it is today, they might suggest that the best form of gun control in America would be to let the Americans shoot themselves to make the rest of the world a safer place. But, of course, the idea that Americans could exterminate themselves by running amok is as much hyperbolic pipedream as it is that they might win a war on terror. Either one would be bad for business.